Thankfulness Challenge – Day 5

No thankfulness challenge could be complete without telling the story of my house from September, 2005.

This story is one of my favorites to tell.  God gave me a house.  Don’t misunderstand; I have a mortgage – so technically I am paying for it.  But there is no way I could be in this situation without God’s miraculous provision.

Point 1: God brought it to me.  I didn’t go looking.

I had talked to a realtor a couple of different times, but it wasn’t possible for me to buy a house.  So I accepted that I would be renting for years to come.  I was content.  God had given me a good apartment and a good landlord.

One evening after work I had a message from the realtor I talked to before.  She told me that there was a new first time home buyer program.  She wondered if I would be interested.  In my mind I thought, “Sure, nothing will happen, but it will be good experience.”  Well, about 5 weeks later I closed on my house.

Point 2:  God made the impossible, possible.

I had left a job suddenly in May, was unemployed for about 7 weeks, and only had unemployment benefits 4 of those weeks.  Then I started a new job in July that was a lot lower pay.  I didn’t think a bank would give me financing with that financial picture.  However, the bank was willing to give me the financing and I could manage the small down payment that was expected.

Point 3:  God laid out each step to make my path clear.

Monday afternoon I went to see several houses – there were two of interest.  On Wednesday we went to a couple more – including a little green house that had only been put on the market that day.  I had a coworker with me that day.  He looked over the house with an experienced eye and made some positive comments.  I was rapidly falling in love with this house. The other two I had been interested in paled in comparison.  I knew I wanted to place an offer.  The next day my offer was excepted.

From the timing of my job change, to the financing, to the timing of my house coming on the market – God clearly made this happen.

This is my home sweet home.

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Thankfulness Challenge – Day 4

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today I am thankful for work.  This is an area where I have struggled.

I was fired from one job (under shady circumstances), laid off twice due to budget cuts, and walked away from two jobs due to high stress.  My jobs have given me the usual ups and downs that we all experience, but they have also been some of the biggest trials in my life.

However, I am thankful for the ability to work.  I am not independently wealthy so I must work to live.  Being single means I am the only one to provide an income.  The longest I was ever unemployed was 7 weeks and I had enough through unemployment benefits to manage financially until I started working again.  God has always laid out jobs and given me the strength to work.

Two of my jobs were ministry related.  Like Charles Dickens wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”  Ministry brings big challenges and heavy burdens.  It also brings great joy and wonderful opportunities to store up treasure in heaven.  I am thankful for the opportunity to have serve in paid ministry positions.

Today I am excited to be away from work for a nice, extra long weekend.  A chance to rest and become refreshed. 🙂

Thankfulness Challenge – Day 3

The more I think about what Christ did for me, the more blessings I can list.  Today I want to thank God for Christian friends.  I have some amazing friends.

There are some ladies in my church that could be mother figures to me (and sometimes they are), but they also treat me as an equal.  They care about me and invest in me – and allow me to invest in them.  I am filled with love and joy from their efforts.

There are men in my church who will take time to work on projects on my house.  Many of them showed concern when I didn’t have a furnace until the day before Thanksgiving in 2010 and when my roof was not in good shape a few years later.

There are various musicians who have invested in my musical ability (considering I have minimal formal training).  I have learned from them and feel more comfortable playing and singing in front of people (not my favorite place to be).

I have one particular friend who is extra special.  Most of our conversations turn to things of Christ.  I can discuss any topic (no really – any topic) with her.  She will listen and share what she has learned. We have lived through trials together. Grown and matured (and taken steps back) in our spiritual walk.  I have learned the depth that relationships can have when Christ is in the center.

I have many stories written down about blessings from many friends – no single post could hold them all.

I thank God for all of you.

 

An additional note:  I typed this post last night.  I visited one friend this afternoon – one of my “mother figure” friends.  She gave me a gift and thought that the gift bag was as much of a gift as what was inside.  She was right – see the pic below.

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Thankfulness Challenge – Day 2

After thanking God for salvation from sins through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross, my mind is filled with numerous life blessings.

Salvation was possible because God the Father, sent God the Son (Jesus) to die.  God was willing to pay the ultimate price for me.  God chose to do this despite the fact that He knew I would sin. Often.

My favorite character trait of God is His faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:22 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (ESV)  God knows failings. Yet He loves me enough to wait for me, to woo me with through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  To send the appropriate discipline to help correct my flaws (Hebrews 12:11).  To send the needed encouragement to pick me up and set me on the correct path (Colossians 1:9).

I am thankful that God is faithful.

Thankfulness Challenge

I have seen many thankfulness challenges around Thanksgiving time.  I haven’t formally participated in the past, but I want to this year.  It is my goal to post something for which I am thankful each day this week.  When I take time to “Count My Blessings”, I find how many I really have. Writing gives me a record of thankfulness.

The first blessing is easy.  I am thankful that Jesus Christ died for my sins and rose again so I could know Him (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).  I was blessed to grow up in a home where I was taught about my need for Jesus.  As a child I placed my trust in Christ to save me from my sins (Romans 10:9-10). I am so thankful God made that possible for me.

Contentment with Flooding

As Christians, we often talk about being content with whatever stage of life we are facing.  I want to tell the story about a difficult time in my life.  God blessed and provided in so many ways.  It was still a hard time in life – I faced some hard circumstances.  However, God gave me grace beyond measure.

On Thursday morning, September 23, 2010, I found wet carpet in my basement. By mid-afternoon the sewer water was at a depth of 18”.  I spent hours numbly sitting on my couch with no idea what the end result of that day would be.

About 2:30 that afternoon the flooding had stopped and I had someone to help me figure out what to do next.  A friend took me to the only store that still had a sump pump (I bought the 2nd to last one on the shelf) and helped get it pumping the water outside.  At that point I finally felt some hope because I could do something.  I have never been good at sitting still.

So the clean up process began.  The blessings also starting flooding in (no pun intended).

While the water was still rising, I called a friend and asked if I could stay with them that night and if she would fix supper for me.  She agreed, but that wasn’t all they did.  After cleaning up enough that I felt ok leaving my house for the night, I went to my friend’s house get some food and a shower (and then crash for the night).  While I was eating, they offered to properly install the new sump pump (which could not be done earlier due to 18” of water covering the entire basement.)  We did that and cleaned up a few more things in my basement.

My next blessing came with a phone call at 6 the next morning.  Personally, I think few blessing could come that early (I’m not a morning person).  I found out that there was no school due to the flooding.  I was teaching part time and normally taught on Friday mornings.  I was relieved to know that I could use those three hours for my full time job.  I went to work and had a very quiet day getting things done.

More blessings came on Saturday when someone from church came to re-light the pilot on my hot water heater.  Not only did he re-light the pilot (giving me hot water), but he started ripping out wet carpet and moldy drywall.  I couldn’t find my good utility knife, so he used a cheap one that broke part way through the job.  He still worked on.  Then Sunday afternoon more people came over to help haul things out of the basement.

Many helped through the process.  Some of the men of the church almost hovered like mama hens asking about the furnace that I was going to need to purchase (not a result of the flooding).  The contractor that I chose was a recommendation from a man at church.  One man came to finish ripping out drywall and even took apart a piano and hauled the pieces out (he did get help for the 150 lb piano harp).  Two men came to install the new drywall – the pieces were cut neatly and the job was done quickly.  One of them even brought his two boys to help distract me so I wouldn’t feel like I had to help with the project (I wouldn’t have known what to do).  When it came time to pay for the furnace (and a/c), God provided more than 65% of the cost through rebates.  (I must pause to thank all of my taxpaying friends.  You helped pay for my furnace with your federal and state tax dollars.)  I was also given a nice sized money gift.  My out of pocket cost was a little over $500.  What a blessing when I had to buy a new sump pump, drywall, electrical outlets and other things.  I even had to replace the battery in my van a week after the flooding.

Additional blessings:

  • A job that allowed me flexibility to go meet contractors (not my favorite thing to do, but necessary).
  • The gift of an electric blanket which helped to keep me warm during cold nights when I didn’t have a working furnace.
  • Food gift cards so I wouldn’t have to cook.
  • One blessing came through a trial.  A building inspector came early on and seemingly chewed me out for the things he thought were wrong with the situation.  I did find out from him that I could get a “clean up kit” from the Red Cross (which I did).  In addition, his insistence on having a professional look at my furnace was the reason I found out that my old furnace was unsafe.
  • Months after the flooding I found a newer washer and dryer set (and even a refrigerator) at a garage sale.  There were two teens that hauled the appliances to my home – they even thanked me for the opportunity to do that!

(A side note:  I wish that I could have done a better job of thanking all those who helped.  I have asked God to bless you.  He will do a better job with that than I ever could.)

The trial of the flooding was great (waiting until the day before Thanksgiving for heat was hard to do).  I often had tears in my eyes not knowing what trial would come next, but the blessings were overwhelming.  I haven’t mastered being content with my circumstances, but as I look back I can see contentment with flooding.

John 3:30

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This picture shows a chalkboard in my living room. I know John 3:30 doesn’t really say that.  At least not in any formal translation.  This is how my brain works.  I figure the more God increases and the more I decrease, then I should just disappear.  I need to allow God to take over every part of my life.  To let Him be my everything.

John 3:30 (ESV) He must increase, but I must decrease.